Friday, May 24, 2013

Berries, Bread + Wine

So I'm in the process of reading Shauna Niequist's newest book, Bread & Wine.  I actually have all 3 of her books started right now, but this one in particular has grabbed me and I'm just devouring it.  The cover calls it, "a love letter to life around the table with recipes'.  I call it, "God speaking directly to me"

She talks about many different subjects in the book - but there is an overriding theme to the book (so far
- not finished yet!) about community and food.  How memories are made, relationships are strengthened, friendships developed, lives changed around a table or in someone's home.  It's really speaking to me personally - maybe you remember me writing about 'intentional friendships' back at the beginning of the year.  How I wanted to move outside of my comfort zone and really focus on my friendships.

Shauna has a beautiful habit of opening her home and her kitchen to, it seems, everyone.  She talks about in the first days of her marriage, cramming as many people as she could into their little townhouse for dinner party after dinner party after dinner party.  She encourages women to get over 2 big points of shame for most of us - our bodies, and our homes.

She writes, "But it isn't about perfection, and it isn't about performance.  You'll miss the richest moments in life - the sacred moments when we feel God's grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love - if you're too scared or too ashamed to open the door."  I LOVE this sentence.  You can count me among the people who try desperately to avoid people just stopping by.  I am always waiting for the next perfect moment to invite people over.  (Well, when we're in a bigger house and have more space.  When we have a bigger table for people to sit around.  When we get a bigger grill to cook on.  When my house is fully unpacked and decorated...)

It might never stop if I keep waiting for perfection.  And I love her sentiment, "What people aren't craving is perfection.  People aren't longing to be impressed; they're longing to feel like they're home.  If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they'll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd."

My inner conflict is the battle between my extroverted nature and the desire to host and entertain and my self consciousness about never measuring up.  Who am I trying to measure up to, I'm not exactly sure - but all I know is that I never feel like I'm 'there' yet.  Here we are, almost halfway through the year - a good 4 or 5 months since I wrote my intentional friendship post and I have yet to invite a single person for dinner.  We finally have a house big enough to fit people, and a table large enough to linger around - and it's time for me to move past shame and self consciousness and dumb self comparison.  Can't wait to finish the rest of this book!

And of course, I have to share with you the first recipe in the book and the first recipe from the book that I tried.  It's right up my alley using almond meal and maple syrup and it's really easy.  She calls it a blueberry crisp, I'd call it a crumble.  It's full of ripe berries with a crispy, crumbly topping and not overly sweet.  Since the dessert itself is so healthy, we topped it with a large dollop of homemade whipped cream.  Perfection.

Blueberry Crisp

-4 c. blueberries (I used a mixture of blueberries and strawberries) Frozen or fresh, but I prefer fresh

For the topping:
-1 c. old fashioned oats
-1/2 c. raw, unsalted pecans, chopped
-1/2 c. almond meal (you can make this easily by putting raw almonds into your food processor until they turn into fine, flour like consistency)
-1/4 c. maple syrup
-1/4 c. olive oil (I used melted coconut oil)
-1/2 tsp. salt

(I also added some cinnamon, because I love it!)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix topping ingredients.

Pour berries into an 8x8 baking dish, or pie plate.  Layer topping over berries.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or up to 10 minutes longer if fruit is frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

You could eat this for breakfast (omitting the whipped cream, of course).  It's absolutely delicious and we ate ours right out of the oven, nice and warm.  Hence the crappy iPhone pictures. 

So - buy the book, make the blueberry crisp and settle in with a hot cup of coffee.  You won't want to put it down!

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